Content marketing has seen phenomenal growth in recent years; almost every Fortune 500 company has a content marketing strategy. All the technology companies like IBM, Microsoft, Google, Twitter and others have blogs where they discuss new features, product launches and much more.
Whether you are an established Fortune 500 company or a budding entrepreneur, content marketing offers the solution to many problems. With content marketing, you can:
- Raise the search engine visibility of your business
- Talk about issues that matter to your existing and potential customers
- Discuss the advantages that your product or service offers
- Talk about how your product or service is better than your competitor’s
- Talk about specific real-world problems that people face and how your company’s products or services help solve those problems.
Even search ‘content marketing’ in Google Trends shows a clear increase in interest in content marketing. However, small businesses are likely to be intimidated by the cost prospects. Digital marketing has become a huge industry globally which includes different forms such as search engine marketing, video ads and mobile video ads, social media marketing and of course content marketing.
Big businesses spend millions of dollars on digital marketing which small businesses obviously cannot afford. However, content marketing has the advantage that it can be done for free or at very low costs. All it takes is persistence, perseverance, practice, and planning.
Persistence, Perseverance, Practice, and Planning for Content Marketing Success
The four P’s of content marketing, or the three-pronged attack if you will that you need to strategize.
Persistence: You need persistence to succeed in content marketing since this is not a battle to be won in a day or a week or even a month. If you want to do effective content marketing and do that for free, all you need is a blog associated with your business website where you put up content — or blog posts — on a regular basis. These blog posts can be written by you or knowledgeable people in your company with good language and grammar skills. This can be accomplished more or less for free.
You don’t need to pay any search engines or social media platforms to publish your WordPress blog posts. WordPress is certainly one of the most easy-to-use website and blog hosting platforms and if your site is hosted on WordPress, adding a page titled ‘Blog’ is simple enough.
And you need to persist, i.e. keep doing this stuff over an extended period of time. Persistence will pay off when search engines will start noticing your content and existing and potential customers will share your content. Persistence is needed if you intend to be known as an authority in your chosen field.
Perseverance: Perseverance is what is needed when you feel that you are not getting enough returns for your free content marketing efforts. You need to persevere and keep doing it even though you may not be getting immediate results. Perseverance is what propels people to success despite early failures.
Perseverance, planning and strategizing will lead to success.
Planning: You need to have a plan on how to go about your content marketing. Above and beyond the blog posts, come the question of ensuring their wide availability. Since your nascent blog is not The New York Time or The Wall Street Journal, it will have very little readership to begin with. Hence, the role of social media to spread the word and the message.
You need to make use of all the free social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.
After creating complete business profiles on these platforms with the descriptions and profile pictures set, you should post the blog posts to these different social media accounts. Social media accounts help establish relationships with your customers in different ways. When customers come up with problems or queries, you should answer via Twitter or Facebook.
Also, you can have your personal social media profiles where you can highlight your skills and specialty and establish your authority by sharing your blog posts. You can increase the number of followers on social media by following the best practices on those different social media platforms.
On Twitter, you can engage in making commentary on news events or just share links related to your domain. Those interested in those product or service areas will follow you. Also, you can seek out the existing experts and follow them. Some Twitter accounts follow a policy of following lots of accounts running into thousands. While this is a good way to increase your Twitter follower count, this may or may not be valuable or relevant for you or your business — it depends on what your aims are and you should pursue your Twitter activity accordingly.
Similarly, LinkedIn is a good social media platform for developing professional relationships. With its new content publishing platform, you can write some posts directly on LinkedIn and share them on your LinkedIn home page. As you connect with thousands of professionals on LinkedIn and grow your professional circle, your LinkedIn posts can get wide readership.
Google+ is a unique social media network that has a certain importance from a search engine perspective as well. Hence, it is absolutely critical to have a Google+ strategy in your social media content marketing arsenal. You need to create a complete business profile and personal Google+ page where you detail your business and profession. You can add relevant authorities in your domain to different ‘circles’ on Google+ and you can also create your own circles. As people start adding you back to their own circles, your Google+ network will slowly widen. You can get readers to your blog posts from Google+ by sharing those posts to Google+ and also sharing the posts to different circles. You can also choose to send an email notification if you wish to all the members of a circle in Google+.
Planning an Effective Content Marketing Calendar
Once you have your blog up and running and you have got all the social media profiles complete and active, you need to have a schedule for when and how often you want to post updates to your blog as well as to the different social media platforms.
As far as blog posts go, you can post once a week at the minimum or more than that if you can find the time to write valuable stuff for posting. As to social media activity, you can spend an hour every morning to check all your different social media accounts. You can use tools like Hootsuite as a central place from which to monitor all your social media feeds.
You need to share content and updates to your different social media streams at least once a day and preferably more than once a day. These updates should be timed to coincide when many users are known to use these platforms.
Facebook is a platform that users typically check in the morning (5 AM — 7 AM) as well as frequently during the day. Similarly, Twitter users check it in the morning and during lunch break (1 AM — 3 PM). User behavior follows set patterns on LinkedIn and Google+ as well. If you are on Pinterest, check out the timings for that platform too.
With Hootsuite, you can time your different posts so that they get pushed when the users are logged in.
What to post?
Since you cannot keep on sharing the same blog post thrice a day for five days in a row to your Twitter followers (unless you want to annoy and lose those followers), you need to have great content. You can come across great content using various techniques.
- You can follow thought leaders in your discipline on Twitter where they will be sharing valuable stuff. You can take that and share on Facebook or retweet their tweets to broadcast it to your followers.
- You will get stuff from Google+ by following experts there who write content on Google+. You can also write original posts which can be as long as you want — 2,000+ words articles with authority and depth are particularly useful and will give them a lot of share-worthiness and make them popular on social media as well as earning some search engine visibility for you — and also check your Google+ page to check out great content shared by the experts you follow. You can take these posts and in turn share to your own Google+ home page or tweet those links and so on.
- You can create Google Alerts for topics that are of interest or relevance to you. Once that is done, you will get a daily email (if that is what you choose) which will have all the content related to that topic. You can take the best of those articles and share on your social media platforms to disseminate them to your followers.
Once you got a strategy in place and the publishing platforms ready, the sky is the limit in how you can go with your content marketing. And all of this is entirely free. And you thought content marketing is an expensive proposition that only Fortune 1000 companies can afford to dabble in?